You are here

Student Research: Bentley Undergraduate & Masters Students

Bentley’s commitment to the teacher-scholar model (Kuh, Chen & Nelson Laird, 2007) has a significant impact upon the University’s bachelors and masters students with many of them electing to pursue research as part of their program studies. As an illustration, at the graduate level, the MS Human Factors and Information Design program requires students to gain exposure to ethnography, field research, interviews, survey design and formative/summative usability testing. Many students also select the thesis track for their degree. Across the other masters’ degrees, including within the MBA portfolio, students have the opportunity to pursue a research paper within a course or as an independent study.

Research at the undergraduate level is also noteworthy, particularly within the honors program, as a component of several of the primary major options, and within the Liberal Studies Major. Outside of the formal curriculum, scholarly activity by undergraduate students is exemplified by the launch of the inaugural issue of the Bentley Microfinance Review in 2013 by the Bentley Microfinance Group. This is the only undergraduate academic journal dedicated to microfinance. Student-run and student-edited like the law review models found in many of the finest law schools in the country, the Review will publish high quality research that significantly informs and contributes to the fields of microfinance, microenterprise and community development.

Learn more about the wide range of undergraduate reserach opportunities at Bentley here.

Featured Graduate Research: Niek Brunsveld (Bentley MBA)

What do corporations owe to whom? The double reflective equilibrium as a method to deal with the societal and moral ambiguity of innovation in distributed work environments

Niek Brunsveld, PhD (cum laude) (Faculty of Humanities, Utrecht University, Netherlands) completed the paper for the course Technology, Communication, and Networks. Led by professors Gary David (sociology) and Mystica Alexander (Law, Tax and Financial Planning), the course dealt with the potential opportunities and risks of technological innovation, and its impact on networks and relationships, in the cyber-age. It explored how organizations can try to benefit from new technologies while avoiding the potential risks that come with them. David focused on the ethnography of working in a context of new information technologies and of teams working in distributive contexts such as being located in different parts of the world, while Alexander discussed the potential associated ethical concerns.

In his paper, Niek combined three elements of innovation, colocation, and ethics. He asked: “If corporations engage in innovative operations in distributed locations, and if they wish to refrain from transgressing societal or moral norms of the various stakeholders (such as employees) in the dispersed locations in which they operate, then how do they establish (1) what responsibilities they owe, and (2) to whom they owe them?” Rather than settling for a situation in which dispersed teams share neither practice-based norms and values nor team-based background theories, the paper argues that corporations should try to ensure that distributed teams find a common ground, in a third joining practice outside their original practice-based norms and values and outside their original team-based background theories. By adopting this double reflective equilibrium, corporations engaging in innovative practices in distributed locations can establish what responsibilities they owe to whom.

“In reflecting on the paper, an anonymous reviewer commented: “This paper identifies a perplexing problem and has something interesting to say about it. The question is how to establish a framework of shared values when a productive process is both innovative (i.e., involves new processes, techniques, and products) and distributed (i.e., carried out in different cultures). The answer is a method of double reflective equilibrium.” 

Featured Graduate Research: Amanda Davis (MS Human Factors and Information Design)

As part of her masters’ degree, Amanda Davis completed a thesis entitled Predicting User Perceptions of Upper Class and Safety Using Biometrics, Facial Expression and Eye Tracking Metrics under the supervision of Professor Marc Resnick (Information Design & Corporate Communications).

Urban city planners and designers evaluate potential and existing urban landscape designs to improve the perceived quality of an environment. These evaluations are used to prioritize funding for public works projects, such as choosing between repairing roads and planting more trees. The current data collection methods used by urban city planners and designers are based on subjective data, such as the Likert Scale, and can be enhanced by triangulating methods for collecting affective data.

This research proposes a method for predicting Likert scale ratings using biometric, facial expression and eye tracking data while specifically looking at ratings of upper class and safety perception in United States cities.

The research informs others interested in bypassing the use of qualitative feedback in assessing participant emotional responses to stimuli and it was presented at the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society New England Chapter Regional Conference (see, Davis A. and Resnick M.L. “Predicting user perceptions of upper class and safety using biofeedback, facial expression and eye tracking metrics,” Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society New England Chapter Regional Conference, Cambridge, Massachusetts, April 12, 2013).

Featured Undergraduate Service Learning Project: Main Street Research Project

This team-based research project was managed by Natalie Caldwell (BS Marketing, LSM Global Perspectives, MS Marketing Analytics). The research was carried out under the auspices of the Bentley Service Learning Center and supervised by Professor Charles Hadlock (Mathematical Sciences).

During the fall of 2011, as research project manager, Natalie Caldwell led a team of fellow senior honors students in investigatyng the potential for reinvigorating the commercial area of downtown Waltham, Massachusetts. Their study focused on Main Street and complemented earlier research completed in 2008 by a prior group of senior honors students focused on Moody Street. 

Although once a thriving district, downtown Waltham in Massachusetts had deteriorated significantly with the departure of major anchor stores and the growth in competition from nearby malls. A wide variety of information was collected for analysis. This included on-street and online interviews, meetings with business and property owners, discussions with the mayor and other officials, and reviews of demographic and sales tax data. Findings were presented in a detailed report (see and in oral presentations at public meetings in Waltham, to the mayor and City Council, and to the Secretary of Housing and Economic Development of Massachusetts. These findings touched on destination marketing of the downtown as a whole, organization obstacles to effective planning, streamlined regulatory procedures, vacancy management, enhancing the commercial mix, and aesthetics. Many of the recommendations are being implemented, and the level of cooperation between the government and the business community has substantially improved.

Natalie’s colleagues on the project were Melanie Andruszkiewicz (BS Accountancy, MS Accountancy), Matthew Christofferson (BS Finance, LSM Global Perspectives), Erin Collins (BS Marketing), Kaitlyn Dunn (BS Economics-Finance), Maria Jaramillo (BS Finance), Eric Kelly (BS Corporate Finance & Accounting, LSM Global Perspectives), Christopher Lauder (BS Accountancy), Julia Mercier (BS Marketing), Megan Parks (BS Economics-Finance, LSM Ethics & Social Responsibility), Zachary Renschler (BS Mathematics - Actuarial Science, LSM Media Arts & Society), Julia Rymwid (BS Economics-Finance), Elizabeth Terchunian (BS Marketing, MS Marketing Analytics), and Yuxiao Zhao (BS Actuarial Science). 

Featured Undergraduate Honors Capstone Project Research: Joshua Cali & John Drago

Joshua Cali (BS Economics-Finance) “The Development of Judicial Review in the Early Republic

Joshua Cali, winner of the best honors capstone research project in the Arts and Sciences discipline, wrote his research paper under the guidance of his advisor, Professor Cyrus Veeser (History). The paper disputes established U.S. legal history in arguing that judicial review existed before the Marbury vs. Madison case. In order to prove his point, Joshua analyzed many old cases to see if they met the qualifications to be considered judicial review. Ultimately, he found that the Hollingsworth vs. Virginia case illustrated judicial review before Marbury vs. Madison. In the case, the Supreme Court used judicial review to invalidate an act of Congress. Joshua’s project will serve him very well in his future studies at UCLA Law School. When commenting on the project, Veeser observed that, “Joshua’s literature review was exhaustive and included law journal articles from Lexis/Nexis, books from interlibrary loan and Harvard, and primary source documents that he hunted down himself, including transcripts of cases from the 1790s.” Extremely impressed with Joshua’s preparation and professionalism, Veeser also noted, “I can honestly say I have never had a student carry out research so diligently, meet deadlines as religiously, and come to weekly meetings quite so prepared to talk about each new installment of the research and writing as Joshua in each case.” 

John Drago (BS Corporate Finance & Accounting, LSM Global Perspectives) “The European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 1494

John Drago’s paper won the best honors capstone project in the business discipline category. Supervised by Claude Cicchetti (Finance), he compared the 1494 crisis to the recent worldwide economic recession. His research illustrated the reasons for the collapse of the Medici Bank, a financial institution in Italy during the 15th century. The bank at one time held a monopoly with subsidiaries all over Europe. John explains that due to excessive lending to sovereign nations, mismanagement, poor relationships with the Church, and an economic recession in Florence, the Medici bank lost its monopoly and became much less relevant. The bank’s downfall was in its inability to assess the true risk of their businesses and investments. Prior to its decline, Medici Bank was extremely innovative, inventing off balance sheet accounting and complex financial instruments. By doing so, the Medici Bank was able to circumvent regulatory boundaries to obtain low risk adjusted returns. The reasons behind the current financial crisis such as financial engineering, excessive lending to sovereigns, asset bubbles and a slow growing economy, are the same causes that collapsed the great Medici bank. Drago keenly draws on these parallels to the recent financial crisis to assert that bankers were unable to learn from past mistakes and prevent a similar recession from occurring. 

Featured Undergraduate Research: How to modify microfinance to help alleviate poverty in the United States

This research paper by Samantha Dumas (BS Finance, LSM Global Perspectives) appears in the inaugural edition of the Bentley Microfinance Review. The research was undertaken by Dumas under the supervision of Professor Donald McNemar (Global Studies) as her culminating honors project. It investigated how microfinance could be modified in the United States to help alleviate poverty in the way it has in numerous third world countries. Samantha postulated that using the same microfinance model developed by Muhammad Yunus for developing countries is not possible in the US, because social and living conditions are markedly different. Although microfinance institutions have modified microfinance to work within a developed country, these modifications have generally directed lending to existing business owners or individuals who need to improve credit scores rather than the poorest of the poor. Samantha found that while these institutions serve an important purpose, they could help more people if certain modifications are undertaken that create an environment for more loans to be made. Allowing US microfinance institutions to flourish as for-profit institutions, possibly combined with commercial banks, is one way to combat the current difficulties they face. Doing so would also improve private investor interest, which would result in more income being available to disperse new loans. Modifying laws and regulations for the businesses of loan recipients and microfinance institutions themselves is also necessary for the success of microfinance to alleviate poverty. 

Featured Undergraduate Research Engagement: Content mapping of undergraduate biology textbooks: Positioning genomics in biology education

Biological thought increasingly recognizes the central role of the genome in constituting and regulating processes ranging from cellular systems to ecology and evolution. 

Eric Ndung’u (BS Mathematics, LSM Health and Industry) and his coauthors, professors Fred Ledley (Natural and Applied Sciences), Dominique Haughton (Mathematical Sciences) and Naomi Wernick (Natural and Applied Sciences) asked whether genomics is similarly positioned as a core concept in the instructional sequence for undergraduate biology. 

Using quantitative methods including Kohonen mapping, the researchers analyzed the order in which core biological concepts were introduced in textbooks for first-year general and human biology. Statistical analysis was performed using self-organizing map algorithms and conventional methods to identify clusters of terms and their relative position in the books. General biology textbooks for both majors and non-majors had discrete clusters of text introducing genome-related content, most often positioned after content related to cell biology and biological chemistry, but before content describing higher-order biological processes. Human biology textbooks did not consistently exhibit a cluster of text introducing genome related meta-terms, and genomic content was most often introduced near the end of the books. The results suggest that genomics is not yet positioned as a core concept in commonly-used textbooks for first-year biology and raise questions about whether such textbooks, or courses based on the outline of these textbooks, provide an appropriate foundation for understanding contemporary biological science.

Eric was pivotal to the project and responsible for both the data collection and coordinating the statistical analysis and neural net mapping. The work constituted the culminating experience for his Health & Industry Liberal Studies Major and it has recently been submitted to an academic journal for publication.